Lord Judd to Ask Russia to Postpone Chechnya Referendum

Lord Judd will ask the Russian government to postpone the referendum in Chechnya until a later date. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's spokesman on Chechnya at a press conference on Friday, January 24 devoted to his recent visit to Chechnya. 'Russia must seriously think about the timing of the referendum because unless a firm political decision is made it could lead to a greater threat of terrorism,' said Lord Judd.

In his opinion, the referendum of March 23 could simply become 'a pure formality'. 'It could lose its relevance immediately as the war and destruction will simply continue,' he added. He believes that a Chechen constitution should be the result of a political process.

'The Chechen people should only start talking about a constitution when they feel that it is genuinely theirs,' Lord Judd emphasised. In his opinion, discussion of the constitution in Chechnya 'has not been wide enough' and the document is only a result of 'the efforts of intellectual circles in Moscow and Grozny'. He emphasised that serious debate on the possibility of a constitution is simply not possible right now as civilian security in the republic has still not been guaranteed. He went on to say that if the referendum is held on March 23 then there should at least be greater preparation for the event. 'I am talking about the need for greater political debate. This is what concerns me more than anything,' he insisted.

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